“Remember: there are no small parts, only small actors.” Actors act realistically in fictitious situations in order to express ideas and represent characters through performing arts mediums such as theatre, radio, cinema, and television. They interpret a writer’s script, supported and supervised by a director, and convey it to the audience through speech, body language, and movement to entertain or instruct them.
Similar Job Titles
- Movie Star
Typical Job Responsibilities
What do Actors do?
An Actor would typically need to:
- Perform in a studio or on location for film, television shows, advertising, the internet, or radio, or live on stage in a theatre to provide entertainment, education, training, or therapy to an audience.
- Connect with agents and other professionals in the performing arts sector to get high-paying jobs.
- Attend and prepare for auditions in the presence of directors, producers, and casting directors.
- Before accepting a position, read screenplays and meet with agents and the production crew.
- In preparation for an authentic portrayal, research the character’s characteristics and situation in depth and breadth.
- Memorise and rehearse lines; perform on stage or in front of the camera with the cast.
- Improve their individual and the entire show performance by improvising a character’s reactions to fit a situation and reviewing the delivery and interpretation with the director, producer, cast, and crew.
- Follow the director’s instructions and collaborate with co-performers and the production team to play their role live in a theatre or for recording or filming in studios or on location.
- Perform voice-overs or record narration for advertising, audiobooks, video games, and cartoons; perform as a walk-on or extra in television or film, depending on the role
- If necessary for the production, learn new skills or utilize existing ones, such as horseback riding, stage combat, dancing, singing, or playing an instrument.
- Assist the production team and crew in liaising with venue and accommodation employees, managing the performance area, costumes, and props, and keeping records as needed.
- Tour with theatre groups or for the promotion of television shows and films; assist with related activities as needed, such as driving a van or setting up (get-in) and dismantling (get-out) the venue’s equipment and props.
- Work with repertory companies on multiple shows, each of which runs for a set period of time over the season, or with commercial theatre companies on long-running or touring plays or musicals.
- Participate in promotional or instructional movies, or facilitate role-playing for participants in corporate training sessions.
- Working as living history interpreters who role-play renowned characters or represent a period, event, place, profession, or community can inform, engage, and entertain visitors to historical sites or museums.
- Participate in fringe theatre, which produces specialty performances centered on a specific genre, era, or author.
- Conduct school tours to either teach or entertain students through curriculum-based productions and workshops.
Standard Work Environment
Working conditions vary greatly because assignments range from live stage performances of classics and community theatre to film parts, shows in amusement parks, soap operas, radio work, television, and advertising. Actors are typically employed indoors, in theatres or television and film production studios. Some contracts call for actors to work outside on location. Actors must frequently contend with the heat of stage lights and the stuffiness of studios while working indoors or in inclement weather at outdoor venues.
Theatre A touring production may take actors to various towns and cities across the country. Actors may also travel inside the country or abroad to work on film and television sets. Costume and makeup changes are essential elements of an actor’s career.
Actors can work either part-time or full-time. Work contracts for individual film, television, or radio productions typically range in length from a day to a few months or longer. Working hours are long, inconsistent, and unsocial. Actors may be required to work early in the morning, late at night, on weekends and holidays.
If you work for a repertory company, you will most likely be hired for a season during which you will act in multiple plays that will run for a set amount of time. If, on the other hand, you perform in a commercial theatrical company’s play or musical, you will most likely be busy for a long time and may go on tours as well. Tours would necessitate time away from home and family. You will most likely assist the company in setting up sets throughout the day and performing at each venue at night.
For tax purposes, the vast majority of actors work independently or as self-employed individuals. Signing up with an agency to get small parts in television shows or commercials, or working as an extra, might be a good way to start an acting career. Some actors may find long-term work with travelling companies. Because few positions are published, you will need to be proactive and build a network of contacts.
Actors are generally employed by:
- Commercial Theatre Companies
- Fringe Theatre Companies
- Film, TV & Radio Companies
- Touring Companies
- Colleges, Universities & Professional Schools
Unions / Professional Organizations
Actors, on average, have a larger percentage of unionized workers than workers in all occupations. Union membership can assist actors in getting perks and more substantial parts for higher compensation. Union members must pay yearly dues, which can be costly for actors just starting out.
Professional associations and organizations are essential for Actors who want to further their professional growth or interact with other professionals in their field or career. Membership in one or more of these organizations adds value to your CV while strengthening your credentials and qualifications.
- Performing repeated auditions to land a role; attending auditions held in major cities at short notice
- Finding any assignment or one of your choice being dependent on a combination of various factors, including talent, experience, effort, perseverance and an element of luck
- Maintaining composure and confidence, whether you are accepted or rejected or given a part that you didn’t want, whether you are degraded or praised, and even when you feel hurt and angry
- Difficult to find steady work and achieve recognition; lack of job and income security due to the unpredictability characteristic of the career; the frequent need to hold another job or run a side business to make a living
- Working indoors under hot stage lights and in stuffy studio conditions or outdoors in uncomfortable weather
- Tolerating the discomfort of wearing or changing elaborate and uncomfortable costumes and sitting through extended makeup application sessions
- The impact of makeup, lights, and weather on skin health
- Time spent away from home, and the consequent disruption to home and social life
Suggested Work Experience
Any academic program in which a potential Actor enrolls often involves supervised experience, such as an internship. When your tasks outside of the classroom precisely align with your teachings inside, you will get the most out of them. When more experienced workers manage to turn seemingly ordinary occurrences into unique learning experiences, you may be able to hear endless stories from them and gain significant hands-on knowledge.
Aspiring actors frequently begin their careers in the performing arts by participating in yearly school plays or local youth or community amateur theatre performances. You might also look for work backstage at a play. You can gain significant experience, skills, and confidence through these channels. You could also do filmmaking in high school or college.
Find short-term paid or voluntary work to increase your job prospects while learning about how a firm or institution runs. It may also assist you in determining if the public, private, or voluntary sectors are most suited to fulfil your goals. Summer internships or part-time work at an entry-level role give you a taste of the work while also allowing you to make valuable contacts.
The career services department at your educational provider can provide information about suitable opportunities for work placements, internships, and volunteer work in a variety of areas.
Working as an entertainer or tour guide at camps, resorts, museums, and tourist attractions is another great method to gain confidence and experience in public speaking, acting, and captivating audiences.
University drama societies are an excellent way to obtain acting experience regardless of your degree program. Attend a variety of theatrical plays, including Shakespeare, to learn through observation. You can also attend workshops hosted by museums, associations, or places relating to literature, theatre, television, or filmmaking.
Performing at showcases and large festivals may be extremely beneficial to aspiring actors since they can be seen by directors and casting agents who are frequently present at such events to scout for new talent.
Enrolling with an agency may lead to minor roles in commercials or as extras in theatre, film, television shows, adverts, or independent films, which may lead to more substantial roles in prestigious productions or at renowned venues.
To demonstrate your devotion to course providers and possible employers, read about the profession and interview or job shadow experienced Actors.
Post-secondary education is not usually required for aspiring actors. They can, however, prepare for the industry by taking acting, filmmaking, media studies, or visual arts classes online or at community colleges, acting conservatories, theatre companies, and private institutions. Take classes in other performing arts, such as dance and music, to broaden your horizons. Keep in mind that specialty performing arts schools often provide vocational training.
Consider participating in summer or other short-term programs to enhance specialist acting abilities such as good dialogue delivery or stage fighting.
A bachelor’s degree in theatre, while not essential, may boost your chances of securing stage jobs because formal schooling fosters your skills. A postgraduate diploma or master’s degree in acting is not required, however it will help you polish your talents and network.
Keep in mind that finishing a certain academic programme does not ensure your admittance into the field. Regardless, your professional credentials and transferable talents may open more than one door.
Before enrolling in a specific program, do your homework and investigate all available possibilities for education and career. Associations and employers in your field are reliable sources that can help you make an informed selection.
Certifications, Licenses, and Registration
Actors do not require a certificate or a license to work. Voluntary certification from an objective and reputable institution, on the other hand, validates an Actor’s proficiency in a skill set, generally by work experience, training, passing a test, or a combination of the three. By including a Code of Ethics, successful certification programs defend the public welfare.
If you deal with children, you will very certainly be subjected to a background check, which may include but is not limited to, a person’s work history, schooling, credit history, motor vehicle records (MVRs), criminal record, medical history, usage of social media, and drug testing.
Projected Career Map
Aspiring actors often begin their careers in minor roles in films, television shows, and independent films, working their way up the ladder to more prominent roles and productions as their reputation and popularity among the audience and industry improve.
A career as an actor does not follow a clear or well-defined path. Finding consistent employment with job security can be difficult for most actors, and becoming a celebrity may be a goal that only a handful can fulfil. Some remain “extras,” while others transition to narrating or giving voice-overs for animated projects or electronic media such as audiobooks and video games. Giving acting courses might be a good way to augment your income.
Moving from one acting contract to another, as well as across different mediums such as theatre, radio, television, and cinema, is typical, although it may not result in major increases in the diversity of your parts or a wage increase. Furthermore, the success of one task does not ensure the success of the next. Learning new abilities, such as singing, dancing, playing an instrument, stage fighting, or horseback riding, or branching out into different regions or genres of performance, such as playing a comedian or the antagonist, may, however, help you advance in your career.
You may also branch out and become a Theatre Manager, Scriptwriter, Producer, or Director, or even start your own independent theatre or film and television production company.
Keep in mind that assignments may be separated out by periods of unemployment. For financial security, you may need to fill the gaps with non-acting jobs.
A growing number of millennials are opting to job hop and build a scattershot resume that demonstrates ambition, enthusiasm, and a willingness to master a wide range of skills in order to expedite their career progress and personal development.
Studies show that job hopping, which was formerly considered as “flaky” activity, might lead to increased work satisfaction. Employees looking for a healthy culture and fascinating work are eager to try out different roles and settings while learning vital, transferrable skills.
Beneficial Professional Development
Actors can rarely declare that their training is complete because it takes years of practise to polish their talents. Actors may need to update or increase their repertoire of talents, such as learning to sing or dance, play a specific sport, or speak in a specific dialect, for each role. As a result, students must continue to hone their acting abilities throughout their careers by taking part in seminars and rehearsals, as well as receiving supervision from a theatre coach. The training sessions may be arranged by the director.
A master’s degree is not required, but it can help you develop more abilities, experience, and contacts as an actor. The admissions process is competitive, and the courses are demanding. A one-year master’s degree in arts/post-graduate diploma in acting is available from a number of colleges.
Summer schools or short courses concentrate on a certain aspect of acting, such as accent and dialogue coaching. Postgraduate courses in related subjects such as directing, theatre therapy, scriptwriting, and teaching are other options.
Actors choose to act for a variety of reasons. Most, though, stay on the thrilling yet difficult route simply because they enjoy performing and want to experience everything. They want to sing, dance, laugh, cry, soliloquy, and entertain a crowd. Nothing compares to being a part of a production and experiencing the show’s accomplishments and disappointments with the other actors and the audience.
Advice from the Wise
Study the craft and put it into practise every day. Prepare your resume and headshots, and attend as many auditions as possible. When you’re ready, market yourself and find an agent. You should not be frightened to fail. It’s the initial step towards learning and improving at something. Aside from that, make sure you have good record-keeping skills or hire an accountant.